For the first time in recent memory, “American Idol” offered not only three spots in the final 12 on Wednesday, but also a valuable consolation prize to eight lucky losers: a second chance.
After Lil Rounds, Scott MacIntyre and Jorge Nunez were voted into the finals, the judges announced the singers who will perform in Thursday’s wild-card round. For those who thought they’d seen the last of weepy Tatiana Del Toro, it was a bad night.
The obvious pick: Lil Rounds didn’t have to wait to find out she’d made the top 12. She was the first contestant called to center stage, and Ryan only made her sweat for a few seconds before giving her the good news. The judges set the bar high, however, as Kara said that they expected “just ridiculous vocals” the rest of the way.
No pressure or anything: Scott MacIntyre’s inspirational “Idol” run continues, as he became the first blind finalist in the show’s history on Wednesday. Like Rounds, he was given the highest of expectations. “I know he’s gonna blow up the stage every time,” Randy said.
Overjoyed in two languages: Jorge Nunez and Ju’Not Joyner were onstage for the final spot in the final 12 out of their group, the first time in three weeks there’s been any drama at all at this point in the show. Nunez made like he was going to punch Ryan when Seacrest looked like he’d cut to commercial … and then had to retract the blow when he didn’t have to wait that long to find out he’d made the cut. He was so overjoyed that he again started thanking everyone in Spanish, until Ryan made him stifle the joy and sit down on the safety stool.
The unkindest cut: It was a tough night for Joyner, who suffered a trio of misfortunes. First, he had his medical history revealed on national television, when his cortisone-shot requiring asthma attack was again discussed. Then, he was onstage with Nunez for the final spot in the final 12, and didn’t get picked. And to top it off, he wasn't chosen for the wild-card round. Maybe he can at least make some money out of this by suing the show for a HIPAA violation.
Eight is enough: The participants in Thursday’s wild-card round were announced at the end of the show, with four men and four women getting another chance. The men picked were Von Smith, Ricky Braddy, Matt Giraud and Anoop Desai, and the women Jasmine Murray, Megan Joy Corkrey, Jesse Langseth, and the predictably hysterical Tatiana Del Toro, who had to be shushed by Ryan in order to keep the show reasonably close to on schedule.
The (bad) luck of the draw: Group three seemed to get the most praise of any of the semi-final groups, with Felicia Barton and Joyner getting lavish attention from the judges. But ultimately, only Smith was invited back for Thursday’s wild-card round. The eight rejects have to be wondering if they’d have been better off singing earlier in the competition.
BLEEP: The group sing was Katy Perry’s “Hot and Cold,” which proved two things. First, MacIntyre’s blindness does not prevent him from being exactly as bad as everyone else in the choreography department. And second, the B-word that rhymes with witch is off limits for the performers, as they sang a modified version of the lyrics, replacing the word with "girl."
At least they had something to say: Give the group of also-rans some credit for giving something than the usual canned answers to Ryan Seacrest's interrogations. Arianna Afsar didn’t give the usual I-have-no-regrets response to being criticized, instead saying “Obviously there are regrets. I thought I could make it contemporary. It didn’t work out. What am I gonna do?” Meanwhile, Alex Wagner-Trugman said “I had some regrets immediately afterwards, but I remembered something I said in Hollywood that I’d rather lose being myself than win being somebody else.” Both had reason to be regretful, as neither advanced to the next round.
Craig Berman is a writer in Washington, D.C.